Sweet Pea's Groceries, Updates

Kaleidoscope Carrot Soap

Hudson Valley Seed Library soapThe Hudson Valley Seed Library Kaleidoscope Carrot Soap is finally available for purchase online and they’ve already had a few sales within the first couple hours of posting it. Yessss….that always feels good. I hope my hard work pays off for them. I literally had to make this soap four times before I got it to my liking. It ended up being a really cool Frankenstein’s monster of a soap because I used elements from each failed attempt to come up with the end result. The little colored, kaleidoscope chunks are from the first two trials, the colorful swirled design is from the third attempt and the fourth is where I fused it all together.

I also crunched the numbers and determined that it’s 82.7% organic so that’s almost as close as you can get with soap. There’s no such thing as 100% organic soap because although sodium hydroxide (better known as lye) is essential to soap making, it’s not organic. Because of that, soap can only be labeled as “made with” organic ingredients instead of “organic” or “100 percent organic”. I also learned that the USDA allows you to exclude water and salt when calculating your percentages so that’s helpful in bumping up your number. To get more of the skinny on organic labeling, visit here.

Here are the Kaleidoscope Carrot Soap ingredients:

  • organic extra virgin olive oil
  • organic coconut oil
  • organic sunflower oil
  • organic, non-gmo pure carrot juice
  • distilled water
  • sodium hydroxide
  • sweet basil & sweet orange essential oils
  • natural colorants (spirulina, indigo powder, sandalwood powder and alkanet root)
  • Kaleidoscope Carrot seeds

 

 

Farm Life

Peacefully at rest

cowsSaturday was my last day of work and let me tell you, the weather gods were shining on me, FINALLY! It was the first nice day outside that I’d ever experienced working on the farm. Oh the irony! The last few days before that were cold and rainy. One day it was so bad that my clothes were completely soaked. To add insult to injury, after a long day of shoveling in wet gloves, I painfully discovered that I had rubbed all of the skin off my palms and was now left with a combo of abrasions and blisters. Let me tell you, the shower that night was one of the most painful I’ve ever experienced. Soap of any kind, plus warm water and blistered hands = ouchy! Try not to scream and scare the neighbors kind of ouchy.

turkeyTo put that in perspective though, I went to work on Thursday and my supervisor was so relieved/happy to see me, which always feels nice. I guess she’d forgotten when my last day was and to be honest, after each day, I don’t think anyone expects me to return the next morning. However, I’m a tough cookie and I was determined to stay until the bitter end of my two weeks, come rain or come shine. That morning, the roof of my co-worker’s (Russ & Jenn) barn had literally collapsed under the weight of the accumulating snow and ice. They run a successful horse boarding facility that houses 20+ horses, chickens, pigs, etc…(and soon a zebra!) in Saugerties. With the help of friends, farm volunteers and another CAS staff member, they were able to get all the horses and chickens out alive. No creature was harmed, luckily. So, that left me, my supervisor and the new guy to run the farm, which explains her relief when she saw me. Needless to say, we got the job done with style and our hearts went out to Russ and Jenn.

The sick thing about that entire situation was that the insurance company told them not to touch a single thing before the adjuster came to see it. Okay, that’s fine…understandable. Except the adjuster wouldn’t be there for another week! WTF!? Part of the barn was still useable at that point, it was just the 2nd story hay loft that caved in. With some snow clearing, tarps and quick repairs the ground floor could be relatively stable and usable, yet with the forecast calling for freezing rain the next few days and them not being allowed to touch anything, I’m sure the barn suffered far more damage than necessary. It makes me angry to ponder and reminds me of Katrina all over again. soapy stachesThese last few days of being a free agent have been restful. That’s basically all I’ve been doing is sleeping. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’ve also caught up on laundry, house cleaning, bill paying, food shopping, made an order of soapy staches, and started the next round of cold processed soap making. Yes! My first batch didn’t come out as I had planned but oh well. It’s still really nice stuff: 100% carrot juice; organic coconut milk; olive, organic coconut, castor, rice bran and avocado oils; plus titanium dioxide and activated charcoal to add a decorative element. The decorative element was a complete fail because the soap seized up on me before I could swirl the colors. I’m still soaping at too high of a temperature darn it! Like I keep saying, soap making is both an art and a science. And just when you think you’ve got the science figured out and can move on to the art, you find the entire process completely kicks your ass and you have to go back to the start (that actually rhymed quite nicely and reminds me of the Coldplay song, The Scientist). Thus, most of the bars I ended up rebatching last night with sweet orange & basil essential oils and it ended up a translucent green akin to baby poo. I had wanted to make a sweet orange soap anyways and I would’ve had to rebatch it because that’s the best way to make citrus essential oils last in cold process soap. (For some reason, citrus doesn’t have the staying power that other oils do in CP soap.) So now I have some vibrant, carrot-colored, unscented bars for the folks with sensitive skin and some nice smelling, baby-poo-green bars for those who’d like to expand their sensory experience. Either way, they’re both great soaps, they’re just not sexy to look at. Oh well. I’ll get ’em next time tiger!

cold processed soapTomorrow is my big interview for the Programs Manager position at the farm. I’m crossing my fingers and toes. I really hope I get the job but if I don’t, I have a backup plan that I’m equally satisfied with. It’s the first time I can think of that I’ve crafted such a fantastic win-win scenario.

I’ve made my peace with life and the job situation and after this I’m washing my soapy lil hands of it all. This past year I’ve come to the realization that I’m a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I’ve applied for jobs that I’m perfect for yet people don’t even have the courtesy to acknowledge that they’ve received my resume. I’ve applied for jobs that I’m both overqualified and underqualified for and have only heard the sounds of chirping crickets back. This never-ending job search has diverted my attention away from the things I want to do in life. The things I set out to do when I moved here a few years ago. Instead of being offended or wondering what is wrong with me, I have to realize that many of my brilliant friends–far more wonderful and intelligent than I–are in the same boat. In fact, I’m one of the lucky ones because I’ve managed to expand the range of things I can do far beyond just what I went to school for, such as making soap. My friend Cathy forwarded me this email from a scientist with a PhD who is wondering if he’s the alone in this. Here’s what he had to say:

Last night the PBS NewsHour profiled several Ph.D. instructors who were working as adjunct faculty, receiving no benefits and surviving on teaching whatever isolated courses they could scrounge.  One young Ph.D. graduate, a single mother who genuinely loved her field, was surviving on food stamps and assistance from her family.

I would like to know if there are people here on ECOLOG who are enduring similar circumstances–who followed their dreams, put in the grueling hard work as graduate students, and are now genuinely struggling to survive in their field, or simply survive at all.  I would like to know who here on ECOLOG has been caught up in the corporate-model conversion to adjunct teaching which has become increasingly common throughout the U.S., and whether any of you feel you can continue in your chosen disciplines.

I am interested in neither condemnation nor plastic platitudes from the comfortably established, the self-satisfied and the lordly-wise.  If you feel entitled to lecture from your keyboard on how and where these people went wrong, then don’t.  I’m not looking for that, and they aren’t either.

But if you are like the young Ph.D.s profiled in the news segment–or even someone not so young, and caught up in the same circumstances–please contact me off-list, because I’d really like to hear from you.

This is the grim reality people. Never in a million years would I tell someone to go to college unless they were absolutely guaranteed a good job once they graduated. Nevertheless, I’ve made my peace with the fact that I may have to give up my beloved apartment and leave Connelly. It may or may not be in the cards and right now it’s out of my hands for the most part. If I don’t get the job, I have Yellowstone waiting for me. Andrew is coming back and we are promised double the hours and several backpacking trips! That should make for some damn fine blogging! It’s a win-win.

herford cowPeace out, peeps!

Making Crafty Magic

Hall & Oats-n-Honey

Today, I’m offering a peek into the creation of Hall & Oats-n-Honey Soap. This is the most gentle soap I make. It’s unscented and uses the most simple, basic ingredients one can find at a grocery store: organic coconut milk, oats, and honey (you could even use olive oil from the store as your soap base and call it a day). Coconut milk offers an assortment of vitamins and fats which actually help to clean your skin without stripping it. And we all know oats are soothing and fantastic for the skin…right? I just happen to prefer steel cut oats because they’re mildly exfoliating when added at trace. Honey has antimicrobial and anti-oxidant properties so it’s a fantastic healer. The only issue I have with it is that it’s a humectant so it absorbs and retains moisture which is great for the skin but it also makes for an oily feeling bar of soap. That’s no biggie but packaging sweaty bars can get a little tricky. Nevertheless, the results are worth it.

And without further ado, here are some soapy pics:

2013-11-06 12.25.07
In the process of making my most gentle, cold processed soap: Hall & Oats-n-Honey. Made with vegetable oils, organic coconut milk, and duh, oats and honey.
2013-11-06 12.28.25
The addition of the main ingredients. You don’t need a lot of either. Too much honey and your soap will feel very oily, even once it’s fully cured. Too many oats and the soap with crumble apart in your hands.
2013-11-06 12.30.42
This is what honey does once it’s added to your soap. Don’t panic. Just enjoy the cool color while you can because it will go away. Bummer.
2013-11-06 12.34.28
A soap with honey in it naturally needs a honeycomb texture so that’s where the bubble wrap comes in. Line the mold first, then lay down the bubble wrap layer so that it’s in direct contact with the soap. I’ve done this the opposite way and it sucked! I can’t go for that. No, nooooh. No can do!
2013-11-07 10.01.30
Unwrap 24 hours later and this is what you have. The dark spots are oily patches from the honey…nothing to worry about.
2013-11-07 10.03.41
Cut and cure, preferably for 4 to 6 weeks if you can manage it. I always cut off the raggedy ends and save them for myself. I have no problem using the thin ends after a week of curing. I enjoy getting first dibs.

My ponderings on honey…

First, let me preface this by saying that I am by no means a beekeeping or honey expert. I’m just passing along what I know and I freely admit that there’s much more to learn. Although I’m trying to go the vegan route in my products, I have no intention of giving up honey and beeswax. I have friends and acquaintances who are passionate, conscientious beekeepers. In fact, beekeeping hobbyists–along with organic farmers, scientists and apiculturists–are on the frontlines of preventing the total collapse of honey bee populations and I want to do what I can to support them. (Here’s a little factoid for yah: Seventy out of the top 100 human food crops, which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees.)

Always shop local and shop small, especially when it comes to honey (eating local honey helps with seasonal allergies). I recommend buying your honey at farmers markets and craft fairs. This way you can casually inquire about their harvesting practices. Certainly make sure they are harvesting just the surplus honey. Bees need honey too. It especially sustains them through the colder months. Yet, many beekeepers will take it all (usually in the Fall when their biological need for it begins to increase) and replace it with corn syrup. Corn syrup is definitely not the same thing. Honey has anti-oxidant and antimicrobial properties, corn syrup does not. This, among a zillion other issues, has led to starvation and disease among colonies. And while you’re talking, you may also want to inquire about any herbicides and insecticides being sprayed nearby that may inadvertently find its way into the colony and into your honey.

*****************************************************

Disclaimer: Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease or substitute care by a medical practitioner. All recommendations are believed to be effective, but since actual use of this product is beyond our control and can vary from individual to individual, no guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken.

Making Crafty Magic

The soap debacle has ended in joy!

So luckily this mess…

6c4c7b123bf311e3849f22000aeb126c_8Turned into this awesomeness…2013-10-24 10.12.45By the beard of Zeus! By last night, I was 100% positive that I was going to have to scrap this soap. As I shook the soap block out of the mold I was absolutely dreading what I was about to see. I apprehensively peeked at it with one eye, preemptively wincing, to find that it was, in fact, beautiful! It’s made with olive, organic coconut, castor & avocado oils mixed with natural colorants (turmeric, spirulina, activated charcoal, pure cocoa, cloves, & cinnamon), fullers earth clay, french green clay and cinnamon essential oil. Not too shabby for my first (and probably last) attempt at the faux funnel pour.

Also, I’m featured in the Artist Spotlight on The Treehouse’s blog. If you’ve ever wondered about me (and many do…myself included), feel free to read this. It may help clear things up or perhaps make them even more mirky…who knows!?

Here’s what I’ve accomplished today…

2013-10-24 18.12.55
I have three more of these particular messenger bags in the works. All bags and jewelry will be sold at upcoming shows and eventually make it to the Hazardous Materials Etsy store.

2013-10-24 18.10.50And what did I do with all of my little, teeny, tiny, wee scraps of fabric from making these bags, you ask?2013-10-24 18.07.20

Well most people would probably throw the scraps out BUT I can’t seem to throw anything out (with the exception of bills and the like). And no, it’s not a good thing. I seem to have a guilt complex around this issue. Perhaps something inside me sees an opportunity wasted? I don’t know. Nevertheless, I managed to make some really adorable jewelry out of the scraps from my recent sweatshopesque bag-making extravaganza. Just what I needed, more incentive to hold on to my hoarding habit.

Other points of interest that I thought I would pass along:

♥ For those of you who have a craft show display fetish, like I do, Laura from Roots and Feathers just posted the coolest jewelry display EVER! There’s no doubt it would make people stop to shop. Afterall, it’s all about curb appeal…just like so many things in life (Ooh, that’s my gutter mind sneaking into this blog post. Bad Jaime!) . See it here.

♥ This nice gal named Carli just contacted me via Etsy about submitting a product for review on her website, Livin’ the Mom Life. Sadly, I’m pinching every last penny so I’m not participating in any product reviews at this time BUT I wanted to share her site because she has a lot of information on product recalls and coupons (which I need to actually start clipping more of, speaking of pinching every penny). Visit her site here.

♥ Last but not least, I need to give another shout-out to my girl, Lisa. Just a few short weeks ago I helped her get her product review website up and running and she’s already gotten over 400 subscribers! She’s the Little Engine That Could of the reviewing world. Keep on chugging woman! Jesse from Themis and Thread is going to be sending her some clothes and jewelry to review. It’s always great to be the catalyst behind bringing two great people together. I plan to help her out from time to time on product reviews when/if she becomes overwhelmed. Check her out cuz she’ll be Checking U Out!

Uncategorized

Where is my mind?

Today I engaged in some soap photography (aka soapy porn) for my Etsy shop and I couldn’t help but chuckle at how humorously absurd I am sometimes. Here I am, freshly moved into my new apartment, the neighbors don’t know who the heck I am and I’m on my porch wearing Mrs. Roper’s muumuu (I prefer moo-moo); a knit shawl complete with a large bejeweled medallion; dancing around to Sinatra, the Beach Boys and Ray Charles; and over-enthusiastically taking photos of soap, of all things, like Austin Powers. Yeah, baby! Yes! Yes! No! No! People must think I’ve completely lost it. Which makes me wonder, was Chuck Palahniuk thinking of me when he created Tyler Durden’s character in Fight Club? I mean we are eerily similar and growing more so by the day. We are both snazzy dressers, soap makers and off our rockers.  Just pondering the likeness…soap 016 soap 017 soap 018

 

Uncategorized

Happenings this Weekend

2013-08-17 13.39.24 2013-08-17 13.39.062013-08-17 13.37.08

This Saturday, I will once again be at the Saugerties Farmers Market from 10 am to 2 pm so please stop on by. I’d be honored to see your beautiful, smiling mug. The sales are as follows: $1.00 soapy sticks, $2.00 bars of One Delicious Buzz and Benjamin Button, $4.00 glycerin soaps and $5.00 salves. And let me just take this opportunity to express how much I enjoy meeting and hanging out with my fellow vendors. Last week I was happily sandwiched between Grey Mouse Farm and Shoving Leopard Farm and we had way more fun than should be allowed. At the end of the market I gifted Marina from Shoving Leopard one of my salves because some of her garden weeds had done a number on her arms. In turn, she ended up giving me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers and a huge hug. I was so touched that I walked away almost in tears. What she didn’t realize was that I had been eyeing her beautiful flowers for the entire market. Early on I pondered buying a bouquet but decided that I couldn’t afford such a splurge on myself. So for the rest of the day I dreamed about someday receiving such a nice a gift and how they would brighten up my new apartment and how someday I hope that I can make enough money to enjoy fresh flowers all the time…the daydreaming goes on and on.  And voila, the world listened! Thank you! Thank you! She was even nice enough to snap the above photos of my booth without giving me a hard time for making such an odd request. Ahh…the world is full of wonderful people and the farmers market has many of them!

Uncategorized

Deals Galore Tomorrow

946901_10151406535556058_2063893226_nYou can find me at the Saugerties Farmers Market tomorrow from 10 am to 2 pm. This will be my first market since I’ve returned from the wild west. Yay! It’s good to be back. I’m dying to make some room in my tiny new apartment so salves will be marked down (from $8.50 to now $5.00–worth every penny!) and some of my soaps will be as well.  Benjamin Button and One Delicious Buzz will be $2.50/bar so get them while they last. Soapy Sticks will be $1.50. Plus, I have a lot of new jewelry to sell. And if I get the chance, I may set up my clothes rack and sell some sewn items too…you just never know. I hope to see you there!

Making Crafty Magic

A Rave Review

I just sent some samples out to a lovely lady who suddenly found herself suffering from extremely sensitive and dry skin. She has such a graceful way with words that I begged her to let me use her product reviews for my site and she kindly gave in. Here is what the lovely Lauren T. had to say about the goodies I sent her way (that rhymed!):

Chai Tea Soap:  A soap infused with tea, offering an overall subtlety of scent and tenderness to the touch.
Oats Milk and Honey Soap:  Also subtle as to fragrance, but you feel it working for you.
Lemony Fresh Soap: Just a hint of lemon, not overpowering in any way–fresh and light.
Lavender Liquid Soap: Non-heady fragrance, a liquid soap none too thick–its nice.
Lavender Cream:  Light Lavender scent, not at all greasy, as if eager to moisturize.
Peppermint and Rosemary Conditioner: None too pungent, considering its infused with both Peppermint and Rosemary.  My hair felt nice and soft.

♥ Thank you Lauren! Flattery will get you far but eloquence–such as the kind you possess–will get you everywhere! ♥

It’s really wonderful to receive such positive feedback, especially when it comes to the lightness of my fragrancing (is that a word? Well it is now.). I’ve seen people smell my soap and express their disappointment that it doesn’t smell as strong as they would like it to. At first I can’t help but  feel a little self-conscious about it but then I remind myself that I’m not tailoring my products to the Bath & Body Works crowd. I have no desire to go heavy-handed with fragrances or essential oils. Sometimes that can be downright dangerous! I got into this business to make soap for those who are suffering and in need of gentle–yet sometimes adventurous–products. I have to remind myself of this all the time because I see all of the super cool, mega-fragrant, colorful soaps people are making–but I just can’t bring myself to fully go there. Sure I dip a toe in from time to time (have you seen my beautiful soapy sticks?) but a toe is about all I can muster. Let me know if you think I’m totally foolish here.

soapy
Here are some of my soapy sticks at Edelweiss Soap Company.

 

Uncategorized

I’ve got goodies for you…

wpid-img_20130104_1642391
Gathering my soap ingredients. Where is the beer though? I’m guessing it’s probably in my hand. Old habits die hard.

Tomorrow is the monthly Saugerties Winter Farmers Market from noon to 4 pm at the Senior Center (207 Market Street). The theme of the market is upcycling. There will be sewing machines available and teachers there to show you how to mend your clothes or how to make them into something new, if need be. And I’ve got some fresh beer soap for you–Honey Ale–as well as new jewelry and perhaps some messenger bags if I can get around to finishing them today. First I must go sledding…priorities!

wpid-img_20130104_1642071
Trading off between stick blending and hand blending. A bit of old-school meets new-school.
wpid-img_20130104_1642161
Looks good, right?
wpid-img_20130112_1254161
Honey Ale all cut, cured, and ready for a new home!